Battling Abandoned, Rundown Homes in Lansing

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Lansing, MI - What's bugging you mid-Michigan?

A homeowner in Lansing says an eyesore in his Northside neighborhood has been bugging him for the past seven years.

The house behind Christopher Fox's home on is overgrown with weeds and grass.

The home is owned by an older man who doesn't live there, but has not maintained the property.

About three times a year, Fox files complaints with the Lansing Office of Code Compliance and with the Mayor.

"Seven years of doing this three times a year...this process over and over and over again is very frustrating," says Fox.

Should the city step in?

The city says they have removed trash and mowed the lawn five to six times over the past couple years, but Fox says this isn't enough.

"There's definitely safety concerns because we've got so many children in the neighborhood," he says.

When it comes to rundown and abandoned properties across Lansing, where does the burden of responsibility lie?

Well it's not with the city, according to the Lead Housing Inspector Scott Sanford.

"We don't own the properties," he says. "We're doing this to maintain a healthy and a safe neighborhood, but ultimately it is the owner of the properties responsibility."

Since the city doesn't have any claim or legal means to get homeowners to do anything, the best they can do is help out and issue fines.

Last year alone, Sanford says Fox's neighbor racked up around $1,800 in violations.

"We're in a catch 22 situation," says Sanford. "It reaches a point where, 'are we actually helping or hurting somebody to do this?'"

Since the homeowner is ill and unable to take care of the property, fines keep racking up.

Fox thinks the system for reporting problems, either online using the "See, Click, Fix tool" on the city's website or calling in, needs to be improved.

Sanford says the city is doing the best it can with 54,000 residences in Lansing and 10 code officials.

"When you're submitting 100 to 200 properties a day to be mowed, it takes a while for us sometimes to get out into those areas," says Sanford.

Sanford says call him or report the problem online, and then, be a neighbor.

"I have a lady that's elderly that lives by me, in the winter time I go out and I shovel her sidewalk. I help her," he says.

Helping your neighbors could be part of the solution, and talking to your neighborhood association if you have one could help.

The city bills the homeowner for all the work, so the burden doesn't fall on taxpayers.

If you have a neighborhood issue you would like to report, visit or call (517)483-4361.

STORY UPDATE: The yard was mowed by the city just after News 10 left.

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